The pandemic created financial and social hardships for Massachusetts families, including lost employment and isolation from loved ones. For high school seniors, the disrupted academic year left many unable to focus on life after graduation.
As vaccination rates increase, in-person classes resume, and hope emerges, a statewide effort is underway to reach undecided high school students and parents with an encouraging message: there are still many choices for college in the fall and opportunities to receive federal and state financial aid.
A coalition of state and non-profit organizations across the Commonwealth is promoting that message in a campaign called “Worth It,” urging high school seniors and parents to apply for college financial aid as an important step in realizing their college dreams. The campaign also includes ways students and parents can seek free, expert help in pursuing higher education.
For example, Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA), will host a free, online workshop to help students and parents complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is the key to unlocking college financial aid from federal, state, and institutional sources.
Filling out the FAFSA helps keep college an option for the fall but does not commit a student to enrolling. Yet, fewer high school seniors have filled out the FAFSA this year than in the previous two years. This has financial aid experts concerned that a generation of low-income and minority students will miss out on a college education.
MEFA’s FAFSA Festival is open for Massachusetts residents to drop in on Saturday, April 24, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Visit mefa.org/events/fafsa-festival for information. In advance of the event, MEFA recommends students begin filling out the FAFSA and to then bring their questions to the FAFSA Festival. Families can start the FAFSA at fafsa.gov and find other helpful resources at mass.gov/financialaid.
“The pandemic has created many challenges for families, and we just want them to know that they don’t have to defer their dream of a college education. We have a team of experts volunteering to help high school seniors achieve their goals by accessing financial aid opportunities,” said Thomas Graf, Executive Director of MEFA.
In addition to the FAFSA Festival, MEFA will host Opportunities for After High School, a virtual panel discussion with four higher education leaders from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, Dean College, and Worcester State University, detailing colleges and programs offering enrollment for Fall 2021, the available federal and state financial aid to help pay for a two-year and four-year college or university, and resources to help students complete the FAFSA. The panel discussion will be Thursday, April 29th, at 6:30 p.m. To attend, visit mefa.org/events/opportunities-for-after-high-school.
MEFA is a not-for-profit state authority, not reliant on state or federal appropriations, established under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 15C. MEFA’s mission, since its founding in 1982, has been to help Massachusetts students and families access and afford higher education and reach financial goals through education programs, tax-advantaged savings plans, low-cost loans, and expert guidance. All of MEFA’s work aligns with the ever-present goal to support the independence, growth, and success of Massachusetts students and families. Visit mefa.org to learn more or follow MEFA on Twitter @mefatweets and on Facebook at mefaMA